Half a century before Marc Maron started welcoming guests to his garage and podcasts became popular, Lucille Ball hauled around a reel-to-reel tape recorder to conduct interviews with the likes of Red Skelton, Dean Martin, Bing Crosby, Carol Burnett and Danny Kaye for CBS Radio. Now, episodes of Let’s Talk to Lucy from 1964-65 are being made available on Apple Podcasts and SiriusXM Radio’s app.

(A handful of these 15-20 minute shows were included as bonus content with the Blu-ray release of one Here’s Lucy and The Lucy Show…but nobody seemed to notice.)

Histories of American radio will tell you that the last network shows aired from 1960 to 62. But two years later, William S. Paley’s Tiffany network gave daytime radio one last chance.

Who would dream that one of the busiest and best-loved stars of television would agree to interview friends and colleagues in Hollywood? It couldn’t have been a paycheck that motivated her; she really enjoyed the experience, which is obvious when you listen to the show. (It also gave a token job to her husband Gary Morton, who serves as announcer.)

It’s clear that Lucy is having a good time and so are her guests, who feel completely at ease. First off, most of them are in their dressing rooms instead of a broadcast studio. They know that a fellow professional would never ambush them or ask an embarrassing question. I’ve never heard Frank Sinatra so relaxed as he talks about his kids and lays out his schedule for the rest of the year. Likewise, Mary Tyler Moore feels comfortable enough to acknowledge that her son is from her first marriage and not the offspring of current husband Grant Tinker. Lucy and Mary compare notes on having kids who play drums and Lucy worries that the noise might disturb her next-door neighbor Mary (Mrs. Jack) Benny!

Let’s Talk to Lucy Sirius XM Holdings Inc.

I’m told that eventually we’ll get to hear all 240 episodes of this little-known gem of a program. I can hardly wait.

Leonard Maltin is one of the world’s most respected film critics and historians. He is best known for his widely-used reference work Leonard Maltin’s Movie Guide and its companion volume Leonard Maltin’s Classic Movie Guide, now in its third edition, as well as his thirty-year run on television’s Entertainment Tonight. He teaches at the USC School of Cinematic Arts and appears regularly on Reelz Channel and Turner Classic Movies. His books include The 151 Best Movies You’ve Never Seen, Of Mice and Magic: A History of American Animated Cartoons, The Great Movie Comedians, The Disney Films, The Art of the Cinematographer, Movie Comedy Teams, The Great American Broadcast, and Leonard Maltin’s Movie Encyclopedia. He served two terms as President of the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, is a voting member of the National Film Registry, and was appointed by the Librarian of Congress to sit on the Board of Directors of the National Film Preservation Foundation. He hosted and co-produced the popular Walt Disney Treasures DVD series and has appeared on innumerable television programs and documentaries. He has been the recipient of awards from the American Society of Cinematographers, the Telluride Film Festival, Anthology Film Archives, and San Diego’s Comic-Con International. Perhaps the pinnacle of his career was his appearance in a now-classic episode of South Park. (Or was it Carmela consulting his Movie Guide on an episode of The Sopranos?) He holds court at Follow him on Twitter and Facebook; you can also listen to him on his weekly podcast: Maltin on Movies. — [Artwork by Drew Friedman]

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June 2024